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Heavy rainfall expected to result in above-average harvests despite localized crop damage

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Rwanda
  • December 2019
Heavy rainfall expected to result in above-average harvests despite localized crop damage

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  • Key Messages
  • PROJECTED OUTCOMES THROUGH MAY 2020
  • Key Messages
    • Heavy rainfall in November and December has caused localized flooding and landslides, with the northwestern Musanze and Ngororero districts particularly affected by landslides that destroyed crops and houses. Meanwhile, the ongoing rains have damaged bean and Irish potato crops, especially in North Province, but benefitted all other major crops. This will likely result in an overall above-average harvest in December/January, supporting Minimal (IPC Phase 1) outcomes through May 2020. ​

    • According to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR), food prices continued to increase significantly in November. This is largely attributed to the continued closure of the Gatuna border post, which has considerably reduced food imports — particularly maize and beans — from Uganda. Food prices are generally expected to decrease with the harvest, but only the prices of Irish potatoes had decreased as of mid-December. 

    • In early December, WFP received additional funding to allow for the provision of full rations for nearly 62,000 Burundian refugees hosted at Mahama camp. As a result, the nearly 150,000 refugees living in Rwanda are likely to continue experiencing Minimal! (IPC Phase 1!) outcomes while the government and partners seek to permanently integrate them into national social and economic systems.

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    CURRENT ANOMALIES

    PROJECTED ANOMALIES

    National

    The Gatuna border post in northern Rwanda has remained closed since March 2019 due to political tensions with Uganda. This has reduced food imports and significantly elevated prices, with the key staples of maize and beans particularly affected. Meanwhile, a blockade imposed by Burundi has prevented Rwanda from importing fruits and vegetables, edible oil, and fish. Lower volumes of these commodities now enter through the DRC, increasing transport costs and prices.

    Talks between Rwandan and Ugandan officials have so far failed to resolve political tensions. The Gatuna border post remains closed, and food imports from Uganda will remain limited. Above-average food prices – especially of maize and beans – are expected to be sustained in Rwanda until normal trade is re-established. Burundi is likely to maintain its ban on food exports to Rwanda, with elevated prices of affected commodities – particularly fruits and vegetables – anticipated through May 2020.


    PROJECTED OUTCOMES THROUGH MAY 2020

    Heavy rainfall in November and December has been generally beneficial to the development of most major crops, including maize, bananas, cassava, and sweet potatoes. However, continuous rain has caused some damage to moisture-sensitive bean and Irish potato crops, particularly in the North Province. According to key informants, yields of these crops are expected to be reduced by 15-20 percent. Despite this, the Season A harvest in December 2019–January 2020 is expected to be above-average at the national level. Maize, however, is expected to be harvested in February–March 2020, as farmers still prefer long-maturing varieties. Tea and coffee crops have also benefitted from the favorable rainfall, expected to lead to average incomes from cash crop sales in the main growing areas of western and southern Rwanda. Given an average rainfall forecast for the February-May 2020 period, another favorable harvest is anticipated in May–June 2020.

    Meanwhile, ongoing heavy rainfall has caused flooding in lowlands and localized landslides, especially in Musanze District in the North Province and Ngororero District in the West Province. This has resulted in crop losses and damage to homes in affected areas. Continued risk in Musanze has prompted district authorities to temporarily evacuate 70 households, with additional evacuations possible if heavy rainfall continues. Affected households are being provisioned with temporary shelter and assistance within the district’s social safety net program, expected to sustain Minimal! (IPC Phase 1!) outcomes. 

    According to the NISR consumer price index for food and non-alcoholic beverages, food prices increased by an average of 6.8 percent between October and November 2019, with the prices of bread and cereals increasing by 5.5 percent. These increases were highest in rural areas, where the prices increased by 8.2 and 6.7 percent, respectively. Food prices are higher than their three-year average levels and well above levels observed last year, with prices of bread and cereals in November 22.9 percent higher than those in November 2018, and prices of vegetables (mainly non-cereal staples) 36.1 percent higher (Figure 1). This is attributed to low prices observed last year as a result of favorable rainfall, in combination with the current high prices in part due to reduced supply from Uganda. Food prices are generally expected to have peaked in November 2019, with the December/January harvest likely to boost food supplies as traders are releasing old stocks to make room for new harvests. As of mid-December, the prices of Irish potatoes were decreasing due to harvests in the North Province; the prices of other crops will only decrease by end of month as most crop harvests had not yet started as of mid-December due to staggered planting.

    In early December, WFP received an additional 4.9 million USD, expected to sustain the full provision of in-kind food rations and cash transfers for over 60,000 Burundian refugees hosted at Mahama camp in Kirehe District. Cash transfers allow refugees to purchase preferred foods and engage in market activity, supporting local economies. Humanitarian assistance is supporting Minimal! (IPC Phase 1!) outcomes among the 150,000 refugees hosted in Rwanda.

    Figures Time series graph showing that prices of bread and cereals decreased between October 2017 and October 2018, then have increas

    Figure 1

    Figure 1

    Source: NISR

    In remote monitoring, a coordinator typically works from a nearby regional office. Relying on partners for data, the coordinator uses scenario development to conduct analysis and produce monthly reports. As less data may be available, remote monitoring reports may have less detail than those from countries with FEWS NET offices. Learn more about our work here.

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